Del Rosario survives poor start to post 1-stroke lead


AULINE DEL ROSARIO marred her return to the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour (LPGT) with a three-putt mishap but marked it with a big finish of two birdies in the last three holes for a 69 and a one-stroke lead over Korean Kim Seoyun in the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) Caliraya Springs Championships Tuesday in Cavinti, Laguna.

Del Rosario quickly settled down after an early struggle with her putter, gaining strokes Nos. 4, 7 and 10 then rebounding from a missed-green bogey on the 12th with birdies on Nos. 16 and 18 of the Caliraya Springs Golf Club, thus fueling her drive for an LPGT victory while on a break from the Epson Tour.

“I actually three-putted the first hole but birdied the last, so I liked how I finished strong,” said del Rosario, who racked up four victories in running away with the LPGT Order of Merit title in her rookie season in 2017.

But to score a follow-up to her last local victory in 2020 in bubble setup at Riviera, the lone Filipina to have won on the LPGA of Taiwan, also in 2017, stressed the need to keep the ball in play all throughout the remaining 36 holes of the P1 million championship.

“The roughs are a bit tough, there’s not much spin coming to the greens, which are pretty hard. So emphasis should be hitting it on the fairways,” added del Rosario, who will be as much as tested as Kim in a second round showdown with Harmie Constantino after the Korean likewise bounced back from a misfortune on the first hole with four birdies against one more bogey for a 70.

Kim was practically on target from tee to green, hitting all but one fairway and reaching regulation 17 times. But she wrestled with her putter and flubbed a couple of birdie opportunities.

“I hardly missed the fairways but the most important thing here is to hit the greens. (Greens) not super fast but you need to be careful,” said Kim, who placed runner-up to Rianne Malixi at Riviera last year.

Constantino, winner of the last two LPGT events last year, overcame a two-over card after seven holes with four birdies against another bogey for a 71 as she seized solo third, just a couple of strokes off del Rosario.

After hitting back-to-back birdies from No. 8 to draw level par, Constantino came through with a birdie-blast on the par-5 12th then negated her bogey on No. 15 with a birdie on the last long hole (No. 16) to put herself back in contention.

“The birdie-blast kind of got me going,” said Constantino, who expects to crowd del Rosario and Kim in the last 36 holes for a crack at another championship after a pair of forgettable finishes in Bacolod and Iloilo ruled by Chanelle Avaricio and Malixi.

“There are some minor details to work on and there are some sides of the greens that shouldn’t be missed,” said Constantino.

Avaricio also fought back from a double-bogey start with birdies on Nos. 4 and 7 but she dropped another stroke on No. 13 and finished with a 73 for joint fourth with Pamela Mariano, while Marvi Monsalve blew a one-under card with a triple-bogey 7 on her closing No. 9.

She ended up with 74 and slipped to joint sixth with Sarah Ababa and Daniella Uy, who is out to redeem herself from squandering a six-stroke lead in the final round in Iloilo that had her finishing at joint fourth instead.

Florence Bisera and amateur Lois Kaye Go matched 75s while amateur Mafy Singson wavered with four bogeys in the last seven holes and tumbled to joint 11th with eight others at 76.

Other four-over par scorers were Rev Alcantara, Kristine Fleetwood, Apple Fudolin, Chihiro Ikeda, Gretchen Villacencio, Koreans Jane Jeong and Yang Ju Young and amateur Laurea Duque.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes

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